Kelley Jones on Gastro-Tourism - Food and Beverage Today
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Food and Beverage Today talks to Kelley Jones
Learn more about gastro-tourism right at home


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Meet Kelley Jones

Gastro-Tourism Right at Home


n today’s economy, restaurants need to make the smartest possible decisions. We at Food and Beverage Today are committed to bringing you thought leadership from the industry’s best minds.

kelley jones, gastro tourism, suite and tender

This month, we asked famed restaurateur and top tier consultant, Kelley Jones, to share his experience with gastro tourism. While not everybody can consult with Kelley, we can all benefit from his perspective based in a wealth of experience obtained in his own restaurants and while working for others as he has managed the operating teams for eight of the nation’s top 100 grossing establishments in the country.

In fact, Kelley is the kind of innovator who can reframe the gastro tourism concept to enable the savvy restaurateur to create and offer a gastro tourism experience right at home.

“Like many other restaurant owners, I tend to be wary of culinary and restaurant trends. The “new, hot thing” usually cools down after a year or two, forcing the restaurateur to jump ship and find a new trend. There are, however, a few concepts that have emerged over the years that are here to stay. Those ideas are focused primarily around the guest instead of the restaurant itself. The craze over Tapas, Sushi and small plate restaurants has maintained because it gives the diner a personalized experience. For me, this idea is centered on the concept of gastro-tourism. Rather than telling the guest what they will eat, the philosophy of gastro-tourism is to allow guests to create their own experience, to give them the freedom to craft their evening from the first sip to the last bite.

It’s All About The Covers

I’ve been fortunate enough to open five of the top grossing restaurants in the country and one thing I’ve found in this business, particularly in a down economy, is that sustaining long-term growth is about the number of covers a restaurant does, not the check average. The gastro-tourism concept lets diners create a subjective experience that is wholly their own. By catering to each diner’s whims and wants, the restaurant ensures the customer has exactly the experience they were looking for and garners repeat business as people realize that every experience in this restaurant can be their own and completely different from the last time they dined. By allowing the diner to make their own decisions, the restaurant can cast a broader net and be more things to more people.

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